Is It Your Thyroid?

Thyroid Balancing Act

If you’ve been feeling a little off lately, it might not be all in your head. You could be showing symptoms of a thyroid issue. But don’t worry, there are things you can do to address the problem. 

In this post, we’ll talk about some of the most common thyroid issues and you can decide if it’s time to get checked. So if you’ve been feeling under the weather, or not quite just right, read on for some helpful tips.

What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a small gland shaped like a butterfly located in your throat just below your larynx and partially hugging your windpipe. This particular gland is responsible for creating hormones that control your metabolism.  Metabolism is the process of converting the food you have eaten into energy your body can use to function.  The thyroid manufactures two hormones, T3 and T4, for this process.  They control your heartbeat and regulate your body temperature.

The pituitary gland monitors the performance of the thyroid gland.  When it senses an imbalance in the thyroid hormone level, it sends a message to the thyroid, via the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), to up the thyroid hormone production or to cut it back. 

Hyperthyroid or Hypothyroid?

When the body produces too many thyroid hormones and increases your metabolism, it is called hyperthyroidism.  Hyperthyroidism primarily affects women and is relatively rare; only affecting 1% of the US population. When the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones and your metabolism decreases, it is called hypothyroidism.  This is fairly common in post-menopausal women over 60. While women are the primary target for thyroid issues, men are still at risk.  A good diagnostic tool is a blood test that will check the TSH, T3, and T4 levels.

Hyperthyroid Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations (rapid heartbeat)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety, feeling shaky, nervous.
  • Sleep issues.
  • Changes in vision and possible bulging eyes
  • Increase in appetite
  • Weight loss, despite the increase in appetite.
  • Diarrhea, increase in the frequency of bowel movements
  • Changes in menstrual pattern
  • Warm, moist, thin skin.
  • Excessive sweating with an intolerance to heat.
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) causing swelling in the neck.

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches, tenderness, weakness
  • Swelling and stiffness in joints
  • Increased blood cholesterol levels
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Slower heart rate
  • Impaired memory or “brain fog”
  • Depression
  • Change in the menstrual cycle
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)

When Your Hormone Levels Are Too Low – Myxedema

There is a condition called myxedema that occurs when thyroid levels are dangerously low.  Symptoms of this life-threatening condition are:

  • Low body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Anemia
  • Coma
  • Heart failure

If you’ve been feeling run down, like there’s just something not quite right and you can’t put your finger on it, your thyroid may be to blame. About 1 in 8 women will have a thyroid problem at some point in their lives, and many of those won’t even realize it. So when should you get your thyroid checked? 

There are treatments for thyroid disease available from your health care professional.  Thyroid disease is very good at hiding in plain sight.  A lot of the symptoms are shared with other ailments, making it hard to diagnose. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, a good place to start is at IPE Screening for a thyroid blood panel to find out your thyroid hormone levels. Then you’ll know if you need to schedule an appointment with your doctor for further diagnostics and to discuss how to treat your thyroid condition.